Tag Archive | Trusting Yourself

Bullied as a Child: How Can I Trust in Intimate Relationships?

Dear JoyDiva,

As a child, from ages 6-12, I was bullied first physically and then mentally.  My parents never openly advocated for me, and teachers turned a blind eye.  As a result, I advocated for myself, and have learned to be strong in that sense.

However, as I grow older, my childhood haunts me.  I feel like I will be left holding all the bags at any moment.  I have issues with trust and intimacy, and this wrecks havoc for relationships that I am in.  I question all the good things that come to me because I was told by everyone that I did not deserve it.  I feel hardwired to think this way, and it feels terrible.  I feel that it would be irresponsible to find someone who could handle all of this baggage, so I desperately try to solve my own problems.  However, this drives a wedge between my partners and myself as I will seem moody and distant simply because I cannot express my feelings in a constructive way.

What can I do to get rid of this ‘baggage’ that prevents me from becoming intimate with another person?

Thank you for your time.

The Bullied & The Beautiful

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Dear, “The Bullied & The Beautiful,”

Thank you for your heartfelt note. I’m going to do my best to give you something concrete to work with through what I offer here, and at the same time, it is clear to me that these thought patterns that feel “hardwired” to you at this point are going to take time and TLC to re-wire, and the most effective way to get clear on and release the blocks and blind-spots keeping you from deeper intimacy is for you to partner with a coach or therapist to help. I can absolutely help you unpack that emotional baggage and support you in taking the scary and ultimately, rewarding steps on the path to trust. I can help you gain the confidence to ask for what you want, believe you are worthy of having what you want, and to open up your emotional world to someone and allow yourself to be supported.

Some resources: I highly recommend the Work of Byron Katie as a simple set of tools to help you question the thoughts and stories that are creating your suffering and open you up to your life NOW, rather than being led by your past. Another experience that could be quite powerful for you might be to participate in the Landmark Forum—the experiential learning there would also support you in the breakthroughs your are wanting. Psychodrama group therapy could be a powerful experience to help you process, re-frame and let go. Brené Brown’s latest book, Daring Greatly would also be a helpful resource in helping you strengthen your shame resilience so that you can open yourself to being vulnerable in all of your relationships.

The work that I encourage you to start moving through is to start differentiating between what happened in your past and the stories that you created around those experiences that are now shaping your future. The past is truly in the past. As painful as it was, it is now over, gone, never to be as it was. Even the terrible, nasty things that people said to you are in the past, over and done with. What is living NOW is the story you created, the meaning  that you added to those experiences in your life. Stories like, “I don’t deserve to be loved.” “I can’t trust anyone but myself.” “Love isn’t safe.” “If I’m vulnerable you will hurt me.” “I’m a victim and you are the perpetrator,” “I will be left holding all of the bags at any moment.” As a small child, you couldn’t help but buy into these stories. You were doing the best that you could to protect yourself and survive. As scary as it is as an adult, you don’t ACTUALLY need these stories to protect you, anymore, and the most powerful place to be is in the heart of your vulnerability, rather than gripped by the fear that these thoughts of mistrust create for you.

And if you were to go back and get really clear on what actually happened in your past, (ie. My classmate called me fat, ugly and stupid) and then the story you may have created around what happened (ie. My classmate hates me, she said that because there’s something wrong with me, everyone hates me, I really AM fat, ugly and stupid, people think I’m undeserving of love, etc.)…the more you separate out the story from what happened, the more you will be able to take responsibility for the meaning you added to those experiences, and set yourself free. The wonderful thing about life is that all kinds of stuff happens, and WE get to be the ones who make meaning of it. At any time you can choose to shift your reality based on how you are choosing to perceive it. At anytime, you could choose to open up your heart and know that no matter what the other person does or does not do, you will never leave you, you will always be there to love and support you. (another one of my posts that has great wisdom in it for you: http://askthejoydiva.com/2012/01/18/why-is-it-so-hard-to-accept-that-my-boyfriend-loves-me/)

So, my love, like I said above, this kind of letting go and thought-shifting may not happen over night and will best be addressed via the support of a professional to hold up the mirror and help you with this process of differentiation. You most certainly do not have to do this growth work on your own, and truth-be-told, as someone who has also built quite a wall of self-reliance through the years due to former abuse and bullying—it doesn’t really work to do that kind of growth work on your own.

I’m always here if you should want to take your healing to the next level and you don’t want to go it alone.

Much love to you. dear heart.

:)Melissa A.K.A. The JoyDiva

©2013 Melissa Simonson

I’m Afraid to be Naked in Front of My Boyfriend…What Should I Do?

Hello Joy Diva. I am 23 years old and I am still insecure of many things I used to be insecure when I was a teen. I am short and fat and I have stretch marks all over my body. I used to have zits and now the marks are all over my face. But this young man, 19, who’s been my friend for over a year now confessed he had feelings for me. And now, we’ve been in love for a couple of months now, but we haven’t been so intimate yet. I know there will come a time when he’ll finally get to see the ugly skin I have I kept hidden underneath my clothes. I’m really afraid my insecurities would ruin up our intimacy and worse our relationship. What should I do?

Ugly Duckling

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Hi Beautiful,

I simply cannot call you the Ugly Duckling because the last thing that you need from me right now is to reinforce this painful image of yourself. You may think that calling you “Beautiful” is taking things too far in the other direction, and I know better. I am confident (and I imagine your boyfriend is, too) that there is exquisite beauty pouring from every aspect of who you are.

Dear, sweet girl—my heart broke a little when I read this post and it was filled with so much love and compassion for you that I can only hope that you feel me wrapping my arms around you with my words. I feel your fear—how real it seems to you that you could be rejected, that you could lose love, that you are not worthy to receive it in the first place because of the way that you look. You’ve gotten pretty good at rejecting yourself, withholding love from yourself, and deeming yourself unworthy through the years, haven’t you? Food itself has probably become both a tool of comfort and punishment as you try to fill those unloved spaces and simultaneously punish yourself for adding to this state of being somehow “unlovable.”

First things first: Fat or thin, tall or short, outgoing or shy, lighthearted or serious, brain surgeon or high school drop-out, etc., etc. you will ALWAYS be worthy of the same amount of love as everyone else—the same love that you feel and wish for your boyfriend, or anyone else who crosses your path. You were born inherently lovable and inherently worthy of being loved. Period. Nothing will ever, ever change that. Being inherently lovable is one of the gifts we get to have for being human.

So, I’m going to give you some tools to love yourself up right now:

1) I want you to honor your fears and insecurities by communicating them to your boyfriend. Right now, you are feeling ashamed about your body, ashamed that you feel insecure about your body, ashamed that you might “ruin” your relationship with this insecurity…and then you’re even feeling ashamed about feeling ashamed. The best way to rid yourself of this shame is to speak it out loud—shame evaporates when we speak it out loud. I know that you’re afraid to let him know that you are anything less than confident, and the truth is that you’re not feeling confident right now—far from it, and what you are feeling is 100% OK and needs your attention and acknowledgment. Let him know how nervous that you are, afraid of pushing him away, afraid that he might not like what he sees…lay it all out there. Honesty is sexy. That’s right…downright I-want-to-make-sweet-love-to-this-woman sexy. :) Chances are really good that he is just going to fall more in love with you through your vulnerability, and if he doesn’t, then he is not a right fit. Any guy who doesn’t embrace you in your vulnerable honesty is not a man worth your time.

2) I want you to start exploring your body as the extraordinary pleasure center that it is. You are a WOMAN! A curvy, soft, sensuous, nurturing, exquisite, radiant flower in your own right. Unlike a man, you have an organ on your body whose sole purpose is for pleasure! How awesome is that?! (Yes…I’m talking about your clitoris…if you haven’t visited it yet or often, I encourage you to get to know it and make it your best friend… :) ) Your body isn’t for your boyfriend! It’s for YOUR pleasure, your enjoyment, your love. Give yourself the gift of exploring all of the ways that you can give yourself pleasure. I want you to enjoy taking showers and feeling the water on your skin, enjoy making yourself smell good, wearing beautiful fabrics…giving yourself all of the time that you need to be fully present in nurturing your body. Dance to music around your house, feel your body flowing with the music. Enjoy the food that you eat—take time to savor it on your tongue. Your body is magnificent. It is the house for your beautiful soul and it is made for you to enjoy what it means to be alive. Women who love their bodies through self-care and pleasure…bodies of all shapes and sizes, are irresistibly sexy.

3) Beyond your body, I want you to explore your inherent fabulousness. Take 5 minutes and make a non-stop list of all of the reasons why any man would be blessed to call you his girlfriend. You were born as a unique expression of the divine, equipped with wonderful strengths. You were born to be a blessing by simply being who you are. So who are you, Gorgeous? Now is not the time to be humble. Go nuts, fill up the page and brag about yourself like there’s no tomorrow.

4) What do you LOVE to do? What do you love about being alive? Make a list and pick 3 things that you can bring into your life daily/weekly/monthly that fill you with joy…and then create time to do those things.

I get that some, if not all, of my assignments for you probably make you super uncomfortable…and that’s the point. You are safe. You are in your own loving hands with every one of these steps, and you deserve to allow yourself to get uncomfortable for the sake of your growth. You deserve to feel sexy and sassy and worthy of all of the love in the world…because you are. Consistently practicing these actions will increase your sense of confidence and love for yourself and begin the process of setting you free. AND you will start to discover that taking care of yourself in these ways just feels damn good…and you so deserve to feel damn good, my dear.

Picturing you happy, healthy, and free.

:) Melissa A.K.A. The JoyDiva

©2013 Melissa Simonson

 

How Can I Rediscover the Fun, Happy, Optimistic Me?

Dear JoyDiva,

I am a young woman of 20 and I want to find out why I can’t accept myself although i am average height and weight. I feel ashamed when I’m naked because I am not your typical playboy model. I have differences that even though my boyfriend tells me over and over again that I am normal or I have read that I am, I still don’t feel this way. It scares me into thinking I can’t explore outside of this little life. I can’t feel free. I have also hurt my boyfriend twice because I am so insecure. I want to be able to be free and be me without feeling I am obligated to stay with my boyfriend or that I have to take up anyone who gives me attention or anyone that is sweet to me. How can I rediscover the fun, happy, optimistic me? Before I would do nothing but draw in my spare time, and I even went to college but shortly gave it up because I felt as if my boyfriend couldn’t handle it and I was afraid he would leave me and even though I love him, I was afraid I’d end up alone. We fought all the time about the past things I did. Help.

Feeling Guilty

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Dearest Feeling Guilty,

I’m sorry to hear how “little” that you are feeling in your life, right now, and I commend you for reaching out in honor of the freedom that you are longing for and deserve to feel.

What I love about this question is that you are already halfway to answering it for yourself. :) You know what’s going on here. You know that you are abandoning yourself by your current choices. You see the fear. You also see how your choices to follow the fear rather then taking the actions that make you feel free and expanded are dimming your light and clipping your wings.

You will feel fun, happy & optimistic when you start pursuing yourself again. Your choice to draw, go to college, or do anything you damn well please has nothing to do with your boyfriend, and if he’s being bothered by your pursuing that which brings you alive, then he’s the one responsible for the misery he creates for himself. A healthy relationship consists of two individuals pursuing themselves, and celebrating & supporting each other in their individual wholeness. You’re not responsible for his happiness, nor is he responsible for yours.

You will feel sexy when you start choosing & claiming your own life again & expressing your unique individuality. This isn’t about your body. This is about you cherishing yourself through your time and attention. This is about you speaking up for what you want and what you don’t want. This is about you owning that you CAN have freedom and joy when you choose it for yourself. All of your focus on trying to keep your relationship has had you in a constant state of self-abandonment. You will rediscover all that is magical within you when you start risking this current false illusion of comfort in your relationship for the sake of what you really want. If he can’t walk beside you as you transform, if the relationship ends because he can’t handle your pursuing your life, then THANK GOD! Anyone or anything that does not support you in coming alive is way, way, way too small for you. You weren’t born to be in relationship with this guy. You were born to gift the world with your aliveness. What a waste of a beautiful precious life if you squander it for fear of being alone! (When you choose to love yourself you will discover that you are never alone. You are always supported. You are always loved.)

Make a list of all of the activities/choices/ways of spending your time that make you feel free and by gosh, start doing those things! Imagine a time in your life when you were really happy. What were you doing & experiencing? What was it about that experience that contributed so much to your joy? How can you start bringing those qualities into your life TODAY?

It’s time to take action & choose yourself, Beautiful.

Here are some nurturing resources for you:

Visit my website & grab your FREE Self-Love SuperStar Kit—a WONDERFUL gift to yourself (It includes a free report of “85 Ways to Feel Happy, Confident & Free…No Matter What”, along with 3 other goodies for your expansion.)

Christine Arylo’s Books: Choosing Me Before We & Madly in Love with ME: The Daring Adventure of Becoming Your Own Best Friend

You are an extraordinary woman who was born to do extraordinary things…always know that.

Much Love,

:)Melissa A.K.A. The JoyDiva

©2013 Melissa Simonson

My Husband Has Become Abusive…What Should I Do?

Dear JoyDiva,

I have been married almost two years now, I’m approaching 30, he just turned 24.  When we first met it was like I could not get enough of his soul…it was a positive energy that I had never experienced before and I fell in love with his beautiful  approach to life.  ( HE is from a different country)  But almost immediately after we got married things started to drastically change, he was immigrating and could not work in the US and got depressed due to lack of social connections and took everything out on me.  I always just chalked it up that he didn’t have a lot of life experience so I just forgave and moved on… Then things started to get more verbally abusive.  Suddenly I was the reason for his lack of motivation, no friends, not enough money, etc.  And yes there was even a point of extreme physical anger towards me.  Now I am a forgiving individual and I try to look at the good of the situation. And I def pray about these things…but it is not getting any better.  Now I am getting sicker and more stressed out about these things.  (we have already tried seeing a counselor also)  What are your thoughts?  I feel so beat down even though I am trying my best.  Help I am lost in translation here.

Lost in Translation

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Dearest Lost in Translation,

Hi, Love. It sounds like you’ve been through a doozy of a Saturn Return over these past couple of years, and you are being forced to pay attention to how you are nurturing the most important relationship you will ever have in your life: the one that you have with yourself. You have been overriding a lot of her messages, the messages from your inner voice, these past couple of years, haven’t you? (God speaks to you through that inner voice and has been answering your prayers all along.) This whole Saturn Return time has been here to bring you down to earth through this experience so that you can start operating in full integrity with that inner voice and begin to understand how to TRULY have a healthy relationship that does not involve all of this sacrifice.

I can hear your pain and desperation, sister, and you’ve reached out to me, your mind wanting me to tell you to stick it out just a little longer, to do x, y and a little of z and watch the relationship transform back into the magic that it initially was; and your heart wants me to tell you the truth: It’s time for some radical self-love. It’s time to stop buying into the blame. It’s time to stop putting him and the relationship WAY before yourself and your own well-being. It’s TIME to walk away. (Take a deep breath….and let it out.)

Your job is not to be nice or even to be forgiving—I hear that you have a sweet, compassionate soul and you’ve been buying into some of these ideas that his current state of being is somehow your fault. Please own this: His happiness is not and never will be your job. Ever. Your job is to love yourself fiercely, to make choices that make you come alive, not ones that diminish you. (Who are you really serving by being a diminished version of yourself? Certainly not him, let alone anyone else who crosses your path…) Your husband’s job is to love himself, and no matter how much you try to love his pain away through support and understanding, he’s never going to be able receive that loving until he stops his own cycle of self-loathing. By staying in this toxic relationship, you are not only harming yourself, but you are not giving yourself OR your husband the precious opportunity to grow.

I get it. You think that if you can just get through this time with him, if he can get his life on track again and rediscover his spark, that all will go back to the positive energy of yesterday. But living your life today because of what was two years ago is not accepting reality. What you are having the opportunity to see  is how your husband copes with stress and change. He’s not practicing self-care. He’s not loving himself, and he’s projected that lack of self-love into detrimental abuse toward you; and Dear Heart, let me repeat: None of this is your job to fix. It’s his job and only his.

I know, just as you know, that your husband has a beautiful core. He is completely lovable and I know it breaks your heart that he doesn’t see it. It’s now time for you to be a beautiful example of self-love, to create the opportunity for him to transform, by choosing to love yourself and walk away. Walking away from him does not make him bad or unworthy of love—it’s the opposite. You are giving him the chance to finally stand on his own two feet, pick up the pieces of the shambles he’s created and learn just how worthy he is. He may or may not take that opportunity. He may continue to spiral downward, and that remains his choice. It is not your job to go to that dark place with him.

I want you to honor your feelings of grief. It is so painful to have found something so magical to watch it disintegrate into darkness right before your eyes. I know that you don’t want to let go of all that you saw was possible for your future with this man, but the truth is, he has A LOT of growing to do before he is in position to be in healthy relationship with you. A LOT. And that will require A LOT of humility on his part and a willingness to completely transform these negative patterns. No abuse, whether that’s verbal or physical is ever, ever, EVER an acceptable coping strategy in any relationship—I don’t care what the excuse. You deserve nothing less than someone who knows fully how to love himself and can pour that love right back toward you, consistently. That relationship will exist for you when you start loving yourself enough to demand nothing less. This is your lesson right now, and I know that it is oh so painful, but God is loving you up with this challenge.  God wants so very much for you to have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to any form of abuse against you. Honor your inner “yes’s” and “no’s,” and you will discover great joy through this painful time.

I want you to surround yourself with love and support at this time—with family and friends who love you unconditionally. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you need support in creating an action plan for yourself—I know that this is an overwhelming time. Rather than “going it alone” this is a powerful time to invest in yourself by partnering with a coach who will help you reconnect with your inner knowing and what it means for you to love yourself fully. I would, of course, be honored to support you as you create the life that you truly deserve to be living.

Above all, please be really, really gentle with yourself right now. Give yourself the time and space that you need to grieve. Know how extraordinarily lovable that you are. (I know this because we ALL are.) Know that you deserve to be deeply cherished, and take loving steps to cherish yourself.  Another post that I think would be great help for you at this time, as well: http://askthejoydiva.com/2012/02/14/why-is-it-so-hard-for-me-to-walk-away-from-my-marriage/

Loving you every step of the way.

Melissa A.K.A the JoyDiva

©2012 Melissa Simonson

I’m Afraid to Show My Boyfriend I Love Him…Can You Help?

Hello JoyDiva,

Let me tell you how thankful I am for finding you, even though I don’t know you :’) My question is, well is more my issue, is that you see I do not know how to love my boyfriend, I feel like if I show him how much in love I am for him he’s gonna get tired of me :( Please help me!

StarstruckbyWatermelons

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Dear StarstruckbyWatermelons, (You could make a hit record with a name like that! ;))

Without knowing a lot of back story (i.e. how long you’ve been with your boyfriend, your relationship history, what it means for you to “show” your love, etc.), I’m not going to focus on any or those sorts of specifics here.

What I can say is this: There is nothing that you have to do or be other than exactly who you are to be worthy of a deeply nourishing and unconditionally loving relationship. Your fears of rejection are completely normal, and it’s 100% OK for you to take baby steps when it comes to revealing your vulnerability in your relationship—there is no need to put all of your emotions on the table at once if that is something you are not ready for. Building a foundation for a lasting relationship happens step by step—it takes time to build intimacy, to reveal piece by piece if your relationship has what it takes to flourish and endure, and taking things slowly is a most excellent way to ensure that you’ve got yourself a good one. If he’s the right guy for you, then he’s gonna relish in taking his sweet time and in building something true and lasting with you, too.

I hear that you really like this guy and are afraid to make a wrong move. As really, super-duper, incredibly scary and vulnerable that it may feel, the thing is that when you choose to express your truth—whether that means that you gush all over him with love or express your need to take your sweet time in sharing your love for him or simply just let him know that you’re kind of freaking out—you always win, he wins and the relationship wins, too. Here’s the deal: you actually don’t need your boyfriend’s love or approval—as scary as it seems in your mind to experience him disapproving of you and/or walking away, you have everything that you need within you to pick up your life and create insane amounts of joy. By choosing to express yourself honestly, you are not only loving him, you are creating the opportunity for you to be TRULY loved for completely who you are. If he isn’t ok with how you share your love, then let him go, darlin'; because that means that you aren’t a right fit for one another, and there is another man out there who is gonna be THRILLED to receive love just the way you know how to give it. Hiding yourself so that you can keep a relationship that may or may not be right? Well, that is selling you, your boyfriend and your relationship way, way short of all of the goodness that could exist in your lives. When you speak your truth, everyone wins—you and your boyfriend both get to see if your relationship has what it takes to serve you both to the fullest and then choose accordingly for your lives. It may sound cliche, but the truth really does set us free—free to be who we really are, have what we really want and deserve, and it opens us to all of the joy that can come with that freedom.

So, I want to ask you: What is it that you really want in a relationship? What does your dream partnership look like? What do you need in order to feel cherished in your relationships? Your homeplay: Go ahead and make a really long, juicy list in answering these questions—really go all out with this one. I have a strong feeling that a core piece of your dream relationship includes you getting to be COMPLETELY yourself and being loved for it. (At least I hope so!) Some other things that you might want to include are: “I can express myself fully and it only makes him love me more.” “I can take my precious time, and my partner will not only understand, but respect and cherish the choices that I need to make for myself.” Have fun with this—it’s so important that you get really clear on what you want to be experiencing so that you can build a relationship from that awareness. The world needs you to be fully YOU, and any relationship that doesn’t support you in your “you-ness” isn’t doing any of us justice.

So, make your list, and then I want you to explore some of the ways that you can ensure that you have all of those pieces that you want. One clear way right off the bat is in choosing to share all of yourself—your boyfriend may or may not choose you in the end, but by choosing to share your truth, you are being your best partner, you are choosing yourself. There is a deep and lasting joy that can be discovered when you realize that you will always have your own back.

I want to close with sharing a video of me performing my upcoming single, “I’m Free”–it’s all about the joy and freedom that we discover when we choose ourselves. May this song serve as a loving reminder of your inherent worth and power.

Much love to you and your boyfriend, Dear One.

:) Melissa, A.K.A. The JoyDiva

©2012 Melissa Simonson

What Can I Do About My Relationship with my Family?

Hello,
I found your site through Jenny Shih’s.  Although I don’t personally know either of you, I am a big fan of each of your gift’s.  I just got through reading your response to the woman with her daughter.  I listened to your song afterwards and it made me cry.
Here’s my situation: I had a 40th birthday mid July.  I have a younger sister (by 2 years) move back to live temporarily a block away with my parents a few months ago.  I live in my brother’s house. My sister & I weren’t close growing up, but in the last 11 years we’ve continued to get closer.  She’s on a spiritual path to become a shaman in South America and my brother is a regular construction guy that really doesn’t get me or my sister half the time. Bottom line, I’ve been having a hard time feeling connected to family and friends in my life lately. I’ve had a lot of change in this last year too. Relationship breakup, 15 yr bff “break up”, move my business to brother’s as well as myself. I feel connected to the universe, as I had an extreme experience with death that gave me a close relationship a few years ago. I try to be very mindful of how I speak to myself, others and how things feel in my body as I say things and what I eat in general.
So my sister texted me to ask what I had planned for my birthday a week before the date.  I thought about it and asked if she might be interested in planning something.  She was just getting back from a trip, so I said to think about it over the weekend and just let me know by Monday… I said I wanted her to do it ONLY if she felt inspired to.  This year, I didn’t feel great about planning anything big as I really wasn’t talking to many of my old friends.  I felt like I was still grieving 2 really important relationships. I did want to celebrate but didn’t want to plan something myself unless my sister didn’t want to.
So ultimately my sister said she wanted to do something for my birthday but then proceeded to tell me that she wondered if I would mind if it was celebrated on the day before or the morning of because she was feeling spiritually called to meet this woman for a vision board party.  I could tell she wanted me to be excited about it but I felt like I second best and not very special at all.  She berated me and said “see!! you do have preferences!” To me, it felt like she wanted to prove that I wouldn’t be able to let go of control and let someone plan something for me.(which I honestly would have been fine with anything but I just wanted it to be a surprise and planned for me) Anyway, she said that it’s obvious that she wasn’t the one to plan it and that was that. My birthday was good anyway, but obviously spending it with 2 girls I recently met was odd since my whole family lives one block away and up the stairs from me.
(Obviously there are issues of connection that go way back to childhood that I keep hoping will workout.)
So, I wasn’t expecting anything from my parents because I had asked if they might want to visit Colorado together for my birthday celebration.  The trip was scheduled for a few weeks after my birthday…
During those 2 weeks I went to a tarot card reader who told me some disturbing information.  She said that my sister and I would have a big fight and that there would be an emotional break. Something gut wrenching and emotionally tough.
I told her that we already had a big fight…she said that there will be another one but more so and that my brother and her will conspire together to work against me in some way. She also said during this time that I need to stay true to myself, hold strong, that I will find love within myself.
So I didn’t sleep that night much because it felt so true, but so surreal…but I calmed down eventually and took it with a grain of salt.  My brother did not go on the trip but my sister did.  We ended up having a good time and had a wonderful heart felt talk on the Colorado Trail.  We didn’t talk specifically about the bday fight but broad strokes about our career’s and our heart’s desire about them and how we wanted to be there for the other one.  I thought that the lady must have been wrong or that we had changed our destiny by talking things through.
Not so.  Tonight she came over and I helped her with getting some ideas on paper for her website.  She listened to me (which I’ve been desperately praying for someone to be a sounding board and a cheer leader to show up) talk about my fears surrounding my upcoming business changes and even shared some tears about my still tender heart surrounding my ex…
Then somehow we got on the subject of the fight around my bday. I told her that it hurt me deeply and that I felt second best, and that I wanted to know her thinking surrounding everything.
She said the she heard me but that she didn’t believe in saying sorry because it makes one person wrong and the other right.  She felt that I wanted her to heal something inside myself that she couldn’t.  I obviously wanted to understand and have a heart felt sorry.  Then she says that I am very ridged and it’s hard for people to be open with their hearts around me..and that I’ve always been controlling all of my life and that I should ask anyone and they would tell me.
Her eyes were piercing and so enraged. I said that I know I haven’t been a good sister growing up and I am sorry for anything that I’ve done to make her feel so angry.  She said that she is angry because she’s responding to the frustration I put on her regarding my brother. Ugh!–at that moment I remembered the tarot card reader say that lots of my cards were Higher Arcana and that means the circumstances are just fate.
How do I show up for myself, protect my heart, not over react and stay grounded?
Sorry this is so long and I would understand if you might not want to respond as this seems somewhat unusual.  (I want a good relationship with my family but my intuition says that my siblings can’t see me for who I really am right now)

Sisterly Love Gone Wrong

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Dearest Sisterly Love Gone Wrong,

Thanks for taking the time to reach out—know that you are not alone in your struggles with your family relationships and your willingness to share will bring great insight to other readers. I’m going to do my best to keep my response as short and sweet as possible—you’ve given me a lot to chew on, but responding point-by-point is not what I feel is needed right now.

With that said, one specific that I must respond to up front has to do with your reading from the Tarot card reader. I’m going to preface what I’m about to say with the fact that I’ve had some great readings in my day and as an Astrologer, am fully aware that there are some amazing healers out there who use a wide array of modalities to connect people to their truth, Tarot being one of them. But here’s the deal: YOU are 100% in the driver’s seat with regard to your relationships with your family, not fate. How you choose to perceive their actions, what you project onto them, how you choose to react—you create the stories that shape how those relationships will unfold. Will they “conspire” against you? Perhaps. But that sounds like classic, manipulative hooey from a “psychic” who’s using her gifts in questionable ways.  Instead of focusing on some fatalistic advice from someone who just met you about a future that you have yet to create—information that is  already causing you to painfully project that reality onto your family relationships—why don’t we shift your focus back to you, the only person whose actions you can actually affect in this situation (or ever, for that matter)?

On one level, I hear you saying that you want to have good relationships with members of your family, and I believe that there is truth to that. On an another level, I also hear that you bring a lot of expectations, a lot of “should’s” to those relationships. If you really look at what you are saying, it looks more like, “I can only love you and be in relationship with you if you love me the way I want you to love me.” You’re bringing all kinds of thoughts that are gunking up these relationships that are clearly of great value to you—thoughts of, “It’s your job to be there for me. It’s your job to understand me and accept me. It’s your job to love me. Family is supposed to put family first. I’m second best and not very special to you at all. Given that my family lives so close, they should be the ones to plan and celebrate my birthday with me, etc. ” And thanks to the Tarot card reader, you can throw in the thought, “My brother and sister are conspiring against me.” So many thoughts that are creating your suffering as your mind argues with reality.  Who do you become/how do you react/how do you treat them and yourself when you believe these thoughts? You create a pain-inducing filter through which all of their words and actions flow. Your mind looks for ways to prove that these thoughts are true and you create pain and suffering as your thoughts argue with what is. Who would you be without these thoughts? How would you be in relationship with your family if you weren’t attaching to these limiting beliefs that are untrue? (My guess is free…and full of love and acceptance for not only yourself, but your bro and sis, too.)

Yes, family relationships can be challenging as hell because we have more years with those people than with anyone else to create false stories that make them hell—stories we created as children with under-developed brains to try and make meaning of our experience. If we don’t stop to question those stories we live in a continual horror story of our own making. We become wounded victims who can only be healed if our family becomes who WE want them to be rather than who they are because—somehow in our minds, they are “supposed” to love us and be there in all of the ways that we want and need. Dear one, you have been so focused on having your family love and accept you for who you are and be there for you in the ways that you want them to be—which can actually only be YOUR job—that you are not noticing all of the ways that you are not loving and accepting, being there for them OR yourself.

I’m glad to hear that the words of my song touched you because they are good medicine for you hear, right now. “The truth is, we’re all trying to be good, and all of us just want to be understood. And when we seek the truth through another’s eyes, we realize that we are all the same…when we forgive ourselves and love despite our frailties, we are divine.” What if you came from the thought, “My brother and sister’s actions toward me come from a place of good intentions?” From that place you might see that despite not being able to relate to your spiritual journey or growth path (it’s not actually his job to understand you, it’s yours), your brother loves you so much that he is sharing his home with you. You might see that your sister was trying her best to honor all of her priorities around the time of your birthday. She wanted you to feel loved and she was also trying to honor herself. When you surrender your personal agenda, you also would be able to see that those two new friends that you got to hang out with were the perfect right people for you to spend your birthday with, not your sister. You enjoyed yourself. Perfect. As it should be. What a gift that your sister offered you by choosing not to plan your birthday for you—you got to spend it with people who were able to be fully present and wanting to celebrate with you.

As painful as it is, I invite you to listen to your sister with an open mind and heart. As my favorite spiritual teacher, Byron Katie, says, “Our parents, our children, our spouses, and our friends will continue to press every button we have, until we realize what it is that we don’t want to know about ourselves, yet. They will point us to our freedom every time.” In what ways is your sister communicating truth to you in what she is saying? I’m sure that she can be just as rigid and controlling as she is accusing you of, but changing her behavior is not your job—changing YOUR behavior IS. It only takes one person in a relationship to step back, to seek to understand, to see loving intentions and to choose to act from a place of love. It only takes one person in a relationship to transform it. Why not have it be you?

Whether or not you choose to mend these relationships is up to you—there is no “right” or “wrong” choice here. I just want to challenge you to notice how freeing it can be when you let these wonderful relationships transform you by choosing to do the hard work of listening and questioning your own mind—who’s been making you second best, who hasn’t been accepting and loving, who has been generating mistrust, who’s been conspiring behind the scenes? Every relationship in your life is a mirror for you to see your relationship with yourself and who you are being in the world—where you’re not trusting yourself or others, not advocating for yourself, not speaking your truth, not being a good cheerleader, not fully listening. There is freedom in these relationships with your family members and deep love, if you choose to allow those relationships to breathe as they really are.

I highly recommend any of Byron Katie’s work for you–I think you will find great insight there.

Much love to you,

:) Melissa A.K.A. The JoyDiva

©2012 Melissa Simonson

Why Is It So Hard for Me to Walk Away from My Marriage?

Hi Melissa,

I am in the midst of a life transition. My husband and I are on a path to divorce. Our life paths have been veering in different directions for a long time. My husband has not worked in 4 years and any savings or retirement we had is long gone as I have struggled to keep our family above water. Unfortunately I am losing that battle too.

That is just a little background…. I have been offered a place to live for the price of maintaining the property and paying utilities. The home was in very poor shape so I have been working on painting and repairs for several months.

My question is, why is it that I can’t seem to make the actual move into the other home and begin actual divorce proceedings? I seem to be stuck in this role of continued support for my ‘husband’ whom I haven’t had an actual relationship with in years.

The worst part of this is I know so much about the laws of attraction, yet seem unable to maintain prosperous thoughts during this time.

Thank you in advance for your reply. It has been a long time since you counseled me and I know your reply will help guide me as it has in the past.

Much love to you!

From the land of Oz

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Hi Sweetheart,

First of all, let’s take a moment to be really, really gentle with you right now. Darlin’, I don’t know who would be able to think prosperous thoughts while going through all of this necessary but painful life gunk. How about we take “Having prosperous thoughts” off of your to-do plate because my guess is every time you think that you “should” be more positive, you feel more intensely in the opposite direction. There is a reason for that—because having prosperous thoughts is not in alignment with what you are feeling right now. What’s true right now is that there is a lot of scary business unfolding in your life and you feel shitty, and scared with occasional tiny glimpses of excitement for what can be thrown in there…but my guess is that you are mostly feeling pretty shitty, right now. (It’s my blog, I can swear if I want to. :)) The law of attraction is not about thoughts—it is about the feelings that our thoughts create. Right now, having a really good cry, getting angry, allowing yourself to face all of the fears that this time is conjuring up is going to FEEL a whole lot better than forcing yourself to have prosperous thoughts. Buddhist non-attachment teaches us that we have to fully feel all of our feelings and allow them to pass through us—we neither avoid them nor cling to them. You’ve been so focused on trying not to feel your challenging feelings that they are chasing you around with a vengeance. Just let it out, Sister—now is the time to grieve, to release. Only when you are good and ready (that could be months from now) can you truly start taking stock of what you’ve gained in this painful time and explore what you want to grow in your newly tilled soil. (I’m surrounding you with love right now. You are completely safe in this space.) You will find that once you face all of these painful feelings, that the path forward will come with great clarity and ease.

I want you to take some time and really look at your fear—there is a lot of it here, and it is trying to love you. Part of the grieving process means allowing yourself to look at and really feel the loss. I want you to write down everything that is terrifying and painful about this time—all of the scary knowns and unknowns. What are all of the things that your mind believes you are losing?—sometimes that loss can be simply in the form of ideas that we have (the idea of the perfect marriage, the idea that marriage is supposed to be forever, the idea that our partner needs us & vice versa).

You have come to identify for so long as the caretaker, the one who holds it all together, that it can be terrifying to let that go. I’m hearing a great sense of responsibility for your husband’s well-being in your actions. I see that some of your fear lies in what will happen to him if you leave—I hear guilt in there over wanting to pursue your own happiness as well. I also hear that you’ve come to identify much of your self-worth with this care-taking role. Your mind is saying, “Who the heck are you if you’re not caring for this man?!” I invite you to answer that question, My Dear. Who are you longing to be outside of this relationship? Who is the you that you are READY to fall madly in love with? What qualities within you are just dying to come out and breathe without all of this responsibility around your neck? Your worth is not measured by your ability to sacrifice yourself. What beautiful opportunities are you creating for you AND your husband by choosing to walk away?

It takes a long time to build a marriage and a long time to take it apart. It’s ok to take your time in growing your new self-care legs. You are infinitely supported in this process, Dear Heart. So, is your husband. There is no wrong step—tune into your heart for guidance, face those fears with compassion, and you will get to where you want to go in the perfect, right timing.

I want to leave you with my song “Be Here Now”—I wrote it at a time of great strife for both me and my mama. Let the words be healing for you today.

The Lyrics:

My bills are late. I’m underpaid.
I’m on my way to work again,
And I can’t seem to find my way out of this.
My thoughts are tired. My body aches.
I’m climbin’ up without a break.
And I can’t seem to find my way out of this,
But somehow I’ve gotta get out of this.

Chorus:
So I’m gonna be here now.
Yeah, I’m gonna be here now.
All I need is here right now.
So I’m gonna be here now.

I gave my heart and watched it break.
There’s not much more that I can take.
And I can’t seem to find my way out of this.
I’ve tried to sleep. I’m still awake.
I’m plagued with thoughts of yesterday.
And I can’t seem to find my way out of this,
But somehow I know I’ll get out of this.

Chorus

The moment before me is all that I need
The fear and the sadness, my guide
The more that I open to all that I see
The more I see it all dissolve into love
Love. Love. Love. Love.
Love. Love. Love.

Chorus

©Melissa Simonson. All rights reserved.

I send you much love.

:)Melissa A.K.A. The JoyDiva

©2012 Melissa Simonson

Who Am I and What Are Some Tools & Resources to Help Me on My Path of Discovery?

Dear JoyDiva,

I often find myself slightly uncomfortable when people ask me, “so, who are you?” or “what is it that drives you?”. I struggle to answer such questions, particularly when put on the spot. I can think of traits that describe me and what I value, and come up with things I enjoy doing, yet I haven’t learned how to answer the question of “who am I?”. First of all, what exactly does that even mean? How deep do I have to dig to discover who I really am and is that the same thing as my true self? Second, I am aware that we all change and grow during the span of our lives. When we grow and change, does that also change who we are or does it only alter the surface of our identity, such as how we view ourselves, others, and the world we occupy? Perhaps neither.

I am on a journey of finding out who I really am. I’ve felt stuck in that process for a long time and am looking for tools, input, guidance, etc. on how to find what I am seeking. I have a strong feeling that the answers are already inside of me, and that I just need help finding them.

Seeking self-discovery

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Dear Seeking self-discovery,

There is a lot of juicy stuff in what you are saying! First of all–YES! The answers are most certainly already inside of you, and you are far from alone in needing help to unveil them. There are a lot of us who go about our lives struggling to find who we are, and all we need is to ask someone to help us by holding up the mirror, so to speak. Our own minds can get us quite muddled, and sometimes we need the support of someone objective and intuitive to help us see what is true for us.

Without getting too salesy on you, :), everything you are sharing here leads me to believe that you are in a beautiful place to receive some coaching–we coaches are trained to ask you powerful questions to help you tap into your own truth, guide you on your path of self-discovery, and help you “un-stick” yourself while lovingly holding you accountable. I personally take that a step further in my work by looking at your birth chart, which is a unique “fingerprint” telling me about your hidden strengths, ways that you can get yourself stuck and the unique gifts that you are here to share with the world. I partner that with a powerful visualization/discovery process that gets us in touch with your essence–and what you need in order to feel fully alive and fulfilled. Feel free to email me or respond to this post for more info–I’d be happy to schedule a phone consult to explore that with you in more detail. You can also view the astrology coaching page and watch a short video on my website to learn more.

Some of your questions really require an actual dialogue between us because the answers are going to be quite personal for you. One thing that I can say clearly here is that the moment you were born, you started living out your purpose in this world–there is nothing that you need to do or be in order to live out that purpose other than who you already are, right now. Is there an aspect of us that endures no matter what is occurring in our lives and the world around us? I believe that there is–call it our consciousness, soul, spirit, source, essence. It is the part of us that knows what is true in each moment.

When it comes to fully knowing yourself and experiencing the joy that comes from tapping into your unique essence, one great place to start is to tune into your inner, “yes’s” and “no’s.” What is it that makes your heart sing? Makes you feel free and excited? Grateful to be alive? Conversely, what is it that makes you feel stuck, limited, and drained? The more that you feed those “yes’s,” those life-affirming experiences, you will find that you are living a fully expressed, and authentic life. “Who you are” is not a logical awareness, it is a matter of tuning into your feelings, your heart and that which makes you come alive.

Another way to tap into your essence is through meditation–this could be a stillness practice, walks in nature, dancing, singing, yoga–anything that quiets your mind and drops you into your body and sense of beingness. It is in the spaces between doing, when we create time to observe life and ourselves that we discover our connection to all that is and that which always endures. Creating a regular journaling practice is also a wonderful way to slow down and tune into your “truths” and discover all kinds of yummy things about yourself. (Daily journaling has been HUGELY supportive, enlightening and transformative for me on my path, and regularly helps me clarify the “yes” choices that I can make for myself along the way.)

When it comes to having the “right” answer for people when they ask who you are or what drives you–what is your heart telling you in those moments? It’s fully ok to be on a path of discovery and to not fully know those answers, and it’s fully ok to express that. The REAL you lives where your honesty lives. The more honest that you are about your thoughts and feelings, even your uncertainties, the more YOU you will feel, and the more love you will feel for yourself and be able to receive from others. Just remember that you are truly magnificent, whether you are fully feeling that at the moment or not. We all are.

Here are some books and teachers that I’ve enjoyed on my own path of self-discovery:

The Red Book: A Deliciously Unorthodox Approach to Igniting Your Divine Spark, By Sera Beak

Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck

Prosperity Pie by SARK

Loving What is by Byron Katie

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

The teachings of Adyashanti

I wish you much love and many blessings on your journey! Feel free to use my contact form above to schedule a free consult or ask any more questions.

:)Melissa A.K.A The JoyDiva

©2012 Melissa Simonson